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Pequot Shipworks Launches First Vessel; Wins first Costract

Fast ferry Sassacus, the first craft built by the Pequot River Shipworks, owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, was launched into the Thames River in New London, Conn., on June 11. The new vessel, powered by twin gas turbines coupled to waterjets, is reportedly capable of carrying 302 passengers while cruising at 47 knots. Sassacus istouted as the fastest ferry in the U.S., and the first U.S. vessel to meet the IMO's International High- Speed Code. The 147-ft. (45-m) vessel, built to a design by FBM Marine Group, has been under construction at the tribe's shipyard following its keel laying ceremony last July.

In its first year of operation, the Shipworks reportedly pumped $6 million into Connecticut's economy, buying $4 million in goods and services from Connecticut vendors. The shipyard reports an annual payroll in excess of $2 million.

"This event marks nothing less than a new era in the history of transportation in the United States," said tribal Chairman Richard A. Hayward. "This is the first of what we feel will be a large number of fast ferries built for the marine superhighway of the next century. The tribe is committed to alternative means of transportation and the Sassacus is an example of that commitment." At the time of its launching, Sassacus was 90 percent complete. Following the outfitting phase of the project, the vessel was to undergo four weeks of dockside testing and sea trials before entering service between New York and southern Connecticut later this year, carrying customers from Pequot-owned Foxwoodsand from New York. Upon entering service, Sassacus will be the eighth ship of the TriCat design in operation. The other seven carry passengers between Hong Kong and Macao in the South China Sea. With a crew of 10, Sassacus is expected to make the trip from New York City to the mouth of the Thames River in less than 2.5 hrs. Hornblower Marine Services has been contracted to operate the vessel.

In addition, the Pequot River Shipworks has also signed a contract with Buquebubus, Inc. for the construction and purchase of one of its TriCat fast ferries. The contract marks the first time the tribe has sold one of its new ferries to an outside buyer. The new vessel will carry passengers between Key West and Fort Myers, Fla Resort Casino, as well as commuters to

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